A co-worker of Bill Halainen once wrote that when his daughters asked him, “What does Mr. Halainen do?,” he thought about it for only a second before responding, “Mr. Halainen is the unofficial voice of the National Park Service. Not everyone in the Service knows him, but everyone in the Service knows of him.” Bill began his career with the NPS as a seasonal interpretive ranger at Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument in 1974. He followed this with seasons at Mesa Verde National Park from 1975 to 1977 before being hired permanently as a law enforcement ranger at Colonial National Historical Park (NHP) in 1977. In 1980 he transferred to Minute Man NHP. Five years later he took the position as the NPS Uniform Program Manager at NPS headquarters in Washington, D.C. A year later, in 1986, Bill began to edit the NPS Morning Report. As one person wrote, “before the Morning Report we hardly knew ourselves.” Through his vision and hard work Halainen built the report into the veritable “voice” of the NPS. His efforts helped link agency members together and fostered a sense of community and teamwork. For nearly thirty years he edited the report, never missing a beat, even on weekends and vacations, at the same time working his regular, demanding job, making it “the longest running and successful communications platforms in NPS history.” For most of his time with the report, he had no backup. Bill was the only editor, editing and publishing approximately 6,900 editions.
Bill’s dedication to the NPS is legendary. He served as a board member of the Association of National Park Rangers, helped establish the International Ranger Federation, edited Ranger magazine, and in 2002 became editor of “Inside NPS,” a job he did in addition to his work on the Morning Report.
After ten years in various positions with Ranger activities in Washington, Bill transferred to Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area as a management assistant, where he worked until his retirement in 2007. But his association with the Morning Report and Inside NPS did not end with his retirement. He continued to edit both publications as a contractor until 2015.
During his distinguished career, Bill received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Award given by the Association of National Park Rangers; three Director’s Performance Awards for development of service wide reporting systems and helping develop the service’s first website in 1995; the Outstanding Service Award from the International Ranger Federation for his role in writing and publishing The Thin Green Line; the Department of the Interior’s Unsung Hero Award; the Meritorious Service Award given in 2006 for his wide ranging career achievements; the President’s Award from the Association of National Park Rangers in 2009; and in 2015 the George B. Hartzog Award given by the Coalition of NPS Retirees (now the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks). Midwest Regional Director Cameron Sholly would observe, “Throughout his career, Bill has been known for being selfless, humble, high performing, highly reliable, dedicated to the mission, and committed to excellence.” That selfless dedication and hard work touched thousands of lives and made the NPS a better agency. His career in the NPS is a reminder that one person can make a difference.